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The impact of servant leadership

Unsplash/jesse orrico
Unsplash/jesse orrico

In the summer of 2010, I traveled to Kansas City from Korea with a curiosity about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I still remember asking one of FCA’s staffers, “What is the difference between FCA and other sports ministry organizations?”

“Influence,” he answered in one word.

I didn’t know what he meant at the time. However, after a week of training at FCA, I understood, much due to experiencing servant leadership. With my hierarchical cultural background, servant leadership made a huge impact on me. FCA’s Dan Britton, Executive Director of Field Ministry, International, especially showed me the power of influence through servant leadership, and he has been one of the greatest influences in my life in the past 10 years.

All of FCA values servant leadership because it’s the model Jesus Christ showed us. To be a good leader means we serve one another. I returned home after a great experience with FCA, and we officially established FCA in Korea in September 2017.

Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence are FCA’s Core Values. I often train colleagues at my hospital on these values. When I share, I usually say, “We’ve already attained excellence when we live a life of integrity in the presence of God, serve our neighbors and value teamwork with others.”

These values are being shared throughout Korea in many ways. One way is Trey Hillman, an American baseball coach who coached teams in both Korea and Japan. Trey coached the Incheon SK Wyverns professional baseball team, who defeated the Doosan Bears in 2018 to win the Korean Baseball Championship.

For any winning team, many behind-the-scenes stories of the athletes’ efforts and the coach’s leadership are told after the championship. After they won, Trey’s servant leadership was in the spotlight. He became the first foreign manager to lead the team to the playoffs in Korea, and the first manager in the world to achieve championships in both Korea and Japan at the same time.

Trey led his team with servant leadership rather than the strict hierarchical leadership that is prevalent in Korean sports culture. Instead of dominating the team with authoritarian leadership and charisma, he deeply cared about each individual on the team, leading them to become one family.

Trey didn’t only care about his players, but also his staff members. Instead of asking his players before training or the games, “How is your conditioning?” he often began conversations with, “How is your family? How is your kid?” He even asked the team’s scouts the same questions after they returned from business trips.

Trey cared about everyone involved with the team. Recently, one of the board members of FCA Korea adopted Trey’s servant leadership model for his own life.

The servant leadership and determination of Trey to uphold Integrity, Serving, Teamwork and Excellence led his team to the championship. It showed the powerful influence of a servant-leader, someone who follows in Christ’s footsteps when it comes to leading.

Chang Won Kim is Director of the Hanmam Sports Rehabilitation Hospital in South Korea and serves as chairman of the Korea Student Cycle Federation. Kim has served as the Korea FCA Board Chairman since its beginning until today.

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